Truth or Just Bias: The Treatment of the Psychophysiological Detection of Deception in Introductory Psychology Textbooks

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This study examined the presentation of psychophysiological detection of deception (PDD; polygraph) testing in introductory psychology textbooks. We examined a sample of 37 introductory psychology textbooks published between 1987 and 1994 for content that discussed PDD testing. Excerpts concerning PDD were then checked for misdescriptions or inaccuracies and rated by two psychophysiologists and a social psychologist. The results showed that PDD received strongly negative treatment in the texts. Moreover, the treatments were often fraught with misdescriptions and inaccuracies. In addition, there was an over-reliance on reviews as opposed to empirical studies. We discuss the significance of the problems of bias, reliance on secondary sources, and inaccuracies, and elaborated on the importance of balanced and error free presentations in this medium that serves as a first introduction to the science of psychology for so many people.

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